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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Driving a manual needs to be a sporty and fun experience and shifters with lots of slops make for a drab drive. Often times, that’s just what we see in economical cars.
The automotive industry is a global business that is constantly evolving and growing, and we here at AutoGuide know it can be hard to keep up sometimes. So here is a summary of the top stories you may have missed this week:
10. Mini Cooper S Clubman
Cars can be bad for your health, and we’re not just talking about tailpipe emissions. The Ecology Center has published a list of the least and worst toxic vehicles from 2011-2012 after testing 205 different models with the aid of an x-ray fluorescence analyzer.
The tests consisted of scanning interior components such as the seats, dashboard, carpets, headliner, and door trim, and identifying the elements in each material. Based on the size of the item and the amount of contact a person would have with it, the numbers were crunched and the car given a score from a scale of 1-5, with a low score showing the chemicals being tested for weren’t detected, while a 5 would indicate high levels of the chemicals were detected.
Items commonly found in car components include elements like bromine, chlorine, antimony, mercury and lead.
Coming in as the 10th worst pick is the MINI Cooper S Clubman with an overall score of 2.84. The Cooper S Clubman is the MINI for those that wish to have a little more room than the standard Coopers. The Clubman is 9.4 inches longer overall than the standard MINI with a 3.2-inch longer wheelbase.
The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada announced the Canadian Car of the Year today at the Toronto International Auto Show.
The top three picks were the Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Accent and Kia Optima. All three, among many others were put through a series of tests by 70 Canadian automotive journalists in the last week of October, 2011.
Cars are initially judged within their segment, and then the winners may go on to be selected as the car of the year.
“The Elantra is the best new car we brought to market, ever. I’m happy all the automotive journalists agree with my opinion,” said Steve Kelleher, president and CEO of Hyundai Canada.
The Elantra sells in Canada for a base price of $15,849, CAD, which is roughly the same in U.S. dollars, though it’s about $500 more than the American version.
Last year AJAC picked the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze for the award.
GALLERY: 2012 Hyundai Elantra
With the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto just around the corner, the finalists for Canadian Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year (the winners of which will be announced during the opening ceremonies of the show on February 16) have been announced.
For the car category, the three finalists are the Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Optima (shown above), while in the utility category, they are the BMW X3, Dodge Journey and Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel.
Each of these vehicles won their respective categories during the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s annual Test Fest, which takes place each Fall in Niagra-on-the-Lake, Ontario. This time out, some 170 vehicles in 11 different categories were evaluated by 70 auto journalists from across Canada, with the CCOTY finalists selected following four days of back-to-back testing on the street, test track and off-road course.
Besides car and utility of the year, AJAC also awards another category at the CIAS, Best New Design. For that one, this year’s three finalists are the Hyundai Veloster, Jaguar XKR-S and Range Rover Evoque.
Summer is almost over, which means back to school shopping. Forget about pens, pencils and binders; what about picking up a new set of wheels? Surely that will make the thought of heading back to class a little better!
Kelley Blue Book has put together a list of vehicles that it believes will appeal to kids. There are some odd choices though.
The new car picks all seem to be decent, all are affordable, efficient and attractive. However the used choices are surprising. The Kia Sedona probably won’t be very appealing to students because well, minivans are not cool. As well, the F-150 is a pretty large truck and although it is the best selling vehicle in America, it’s hardly fuel efficient. The HHR was also an interesting choice because not many young people drive them. The new vehicles are probably better choices overall, but who knows, maybe minivans are secretly cool among teenagers… or maybe just teenagers trying really hard to be ironic. What do you think?
Check out the list of new and used vehicles after the jump:
While Hyundai has made great strides in the compact and mid-size segments, with the new Elantra and Sonata, arguably the car that put it on the map was the sub-compact Accent. While a less-than-great piece of engineering in the past, it did serve a purpose. With the second generation of the Accent, Hyundai has infused the car with many of traits of its larger siblings in the hopes of leading the segment with style, features and fuel economy. The plan is that this new value equation will result in big sales. It has.
In its first full month on sale the Accent topped segment leaders, with 6,938 units sold. “The all-new Accent outsold two great small cars we really respect in July – the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. In fact, the sales numbers weren’t even close with the Accent handily out-selling the second-place Versa at 5,359 units, while the Fiesta came a close third with 5,296 units.
Krafcik credits the car’s fuel economy, design and built-in-value. “It’s a good indication that consumers are connecting with our new design, 40-mpg fuel economy, and the Assurance Trade-In Value Guarantee,” he said. “It’s a great recipe for this economy.”
GALLERY: 2012 Hyundai Accent
The previous Accent was the kind of car that you bought out of necessity rather than desire, but the newest subcompact Hyundai looks like it will find homes among many, thanks to handsome styling and 40 mpg capability without any special order option packages. Motivation comes from a direct-injection 138-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes 123 ft-lbs of torque while returning 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. A 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic transmission will be offered, and automatic transmission models will feature a driver selectable Eco mode that is said to improve “real-world” fuel economy by as much as 7 percent.
Despite its diminutive exterior, Hyundai claims that interior space is so large that the car is classified as a compact. Items like stability control, ABS, and power steering are standard, while Bluetooth connectivity, an iPod connector and 16″ allow wheels are optional. The Accent will start at around $12,000 for a base model, bringing an end to the days where an Accent could be had brand new for under $10,000.
Gallery: 2012 Hyundai Accent
While Hyundai‘s undoubtedly been on a roll lately, they haven’t quite managed to bend the laws of physics, despite what their newest stunt may suggest.
Hyundai’s Malaysian arm suspended a 2012 Accent from the vertical face of a building, and had a driver wearing some futuristic garb descend towards the Accent. Through the use of some trick 3D projection and properly spinning wheels, the Accent really looks like it’s driving. Check out the video below.
For all the fuss about Hyundai‘s success in the United States, the Korean automaker is making even bigger waves in Canada, where the brand reigned supreme for Q1 of this year.
While truck sales far outpace car sales in Canada (just like in America – and both markets are topped by the Ford F-Series), Hyundai managed to beat out everyone else in passenger car sales, besting Toyota (including Scion and Lexus) by 219 units and GM by 1,654 units, for total sales of 18,704 cars.
But the race is hardly over, and without a proper truck, Hyundai still lags behind Ford, GM and Chrysler, were which buoyed by their lineup of pickups and other truck-based products. It’s interesting to note that Canada’s light-truck sales are still strong even in the face of higher gas prices (the $4/gallon threshold was passed long ago). On the other hand, passenger cars sold in Canada tend to be small compacts, and Hyundai chose to reveal their 2012 Accent at Canadian auto shows before they made their American debut. With the Accent, Elantra and Veloster all capable of 40 MPG, the brand looks well positioned to do very well in the Canadian marketplace, even if it is a relatively small one.
[Source: Sympatico Autos]
Hyundai is partnering with technology company NAVTEQ to offer drivers a “green” option for route guidance. The “green” choice will apparently yield a 6 percent bump in fuel economy, which should dovetail nicely with Hyundai’s new Sonata Hybrid and their Elantra, Veloster and Accent small cars, which are capable of 40 mpg on the highway.
Of course, driving in anger during a high traffic stop and go commute is the worst way to conserve fuel, but also the most common mode of driving for many people.
Hit the jump to read the press release
The Kia Rio used to have the ignominious honor of being a “penalty box”, a car you didn’t want to spend time in unless absolutely necessary. But with the upswing in quality from Kia, and shared underpinnings from the promising new Hyundai Accent, the all-new Rio, shown for the first time at the Geneva Auto Show, might just be a solid little car for entry level buyers.
On sale in the U.S. this fall, the Rio features Kia’s new corporate styling cues, but still maintains a very close resemblance to the Ford Fiesta – not a bad thing in this segment. While only European specifications were announced, the North American version will probably use the 1.6L 138-horsepower 4-cylinder engine that the Accent uses, which will also deliver about 30-mpg in town and 41 mpg on the highway. The Rio should also boast one of the lightest curb weights in its class, and may even undercut the Accent’s MSRP.
Gallery: Kia Rio
Hyundai is looking to capture 5 percent of the U.S. car market in 2011, amid projections that show greater overall sales for new vehicles in the coming year.
With Hyundai sales up 24 percent in 2010, and a market share of 4.6 percent, the new target is certainly reachable, especially with new products like the Elantra and Accent compacts. The company will also cut fleet and rental sales from 17 percent to around 13 or 14 percent. Fleet sales help boost overall sales figures but are less profitable due to automakers selling vehicles in bulk.
Although only a sketch has been released so far, the familiar design language brought forth by Kia styling boss Peter Schreyer. Mechanically, the car should share the new Accent’s 1.6L Gamma 4-cylinder, which is estimated to return 37 mpg in the city and an astounding 50 mpg on the highway.
Hit the jump to see the official press release
The Honda Fit and Mazda 2 will headline a new racing class, known as B-Spec, that’s been designed as a new showroom stock racing series. The rule set is expected to be finalized within the next 60 days, and both the SCCA and NASA sanctioning bodies have expressed interested in adopting the class.
Using OEM specified wheel, tire and suspension components, the cars will have stock chassis and engines, but will be able to use weight reduction and ballasting to gain performance advantages. The Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Aveo, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris are also eligible for competition.
For all the hype surrounding Ford‘s Fiesta subcompact, which is capable of hitting 40 mpg, it looks like subcompacts, especially those than can hit the vaunted number, aren’t selling all that well in the USA.
Even though gas prices will almost certainly hit $3 a gallon, customers are still gravitating towards compact cars, according to Cars.com’s David Thomas. This means vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra are well positioned with their 40 mpg fuel economy numbers, spacious interior and premium features…but if gas prices keep going past $3 (and they almost certainly will) then the sub compact segment may see a resurgence, just like the summer of 2008 when gas was around $4.
The big winners in the segment are still the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit respectively, with the Versa enjoying a nearly 3,000 unit lead over the Fit in November. Hyundai’s Accent and the Fit are nearly neck and neck, while the Fiesta comes in at fourth place, but cars like the Chevrolet Aveo and Toyota Yaris are nipping at its heels, even with stale-dated designs and no 40 mpg capability. We think the significant delta in price between a bare bones Aveo and a more expensive Fiesta hatch may have something to do with this.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
The folks over at Left Lane News have spied an undisguised Hyundai Accent after it was caught at a well-known hot weather testing location by the spies at Brenda Priddy & Co.
The Accent gets some differentiating styling cues from the Korean market Accent (known as the Verna over there) and, with the American car sharing some details with the rapid-selling Sonata. Specs haven’t been announced in advance of the car’s Los Angeles Auto Show debut, but a 1.6L direct-injection four-cylinder engine making 140 horsepower is expected to motivate the car, with a 6-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Brad Benson, owner of a Hyundai dealership in South Brunswick, New Jersey, is making good on his promise to donate a car to Terry Jones, a Florida pastor who threatened to burn the Quran, after he reneged on the planned destruction of the Muslim holy book.
Benson had offered to give Jones a Hyundai Accent for free if he refrained, although it may have been the personal appeals from figures like President Barack Obama and General David Patraeus that swayed Jones’ decision.
A representative from Benson’s dealership contacted Jones, who initially declined the car. In the end, he decided to donate the vehicle to a center for battered Muslim women, a noble, if politically loaded gesture. Benson, of course, is the big winner here, racking up tons of free publicity for relatively little cost.
[Source: Autoblog via The New York Times]
Rhys Millen, pilot of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe Formula D car, will drive a Hyundai Accent WRC car at the U.S. Rallycross Championship in New Jersey on October 2-3 and November 6-7.
“We’ve really benefited from our Genesis Coupe Formula Drift partnership with Rhys, and so we’ve decided to expand on that with this move into Rallycross,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. ”Our participation this year is all about learning the ropes of this new series. Next year, we’ll campaign with an all-new car that’s also going to be an exciting entry to Hyundai’s U.S. production lineup.”
Rallycross is more in line with drifting than WRC-style competition, featuring jumps and slides over a pavement and gravel course. This year marks the first time that RallyAmerica will sanction the competition, and the popularity of XGames Rally has undoubtedly helped the sport gain traction in America. This season of Rallycross will feature big name stars like Ken Block, Travis Pastrana and Dave Mirra in their Ford Fiesta and Subaru WRX STI rally cars.
Hit the jump to see the official press release